Hitachi Illumina PJ-TX200 £1500

1st Dec 2005 | 00:00

Hitachi puts its weight behind LCD

TechRadar rating:

5 stars

Shows that affordable LCD really can satisfy the needs of the serious movie fan

Like:

<p>Picture</p><p>design</p><p>price</p><p>features</p><p>connectivity</p>

Dislike:

<p>Auto2 setting flickers a bit - but that's it</p>

With DLP technology usually stealing the projection limelight, rival LCD is often seen as something of a 'poor relation'. But LCD's supporters reckon that movie fans write LCD off at their peril. Now Hitachi, is putting its money where its mouth is with an LCD projector out to rewrite the rulebook.

The PJ-TX200 gets off to a great start by being a gorgeous looker, with curves to die for and an opulent finish that looks like it should cost much more than it does.

Connectivity presses all the right buttons with key inclusions being an HDMI jack, component video inputs, and a PC jack. The first two of these jacks tally with the connectivity section of the industry's HD Ready specs, and the projector completes its HD Ready journey with a suitably high native resolution of 1280 x 720, and compatibility with HD formats.

Delivering the picture to your screen, meanwhile, is a proprietary 'Super ED' lens array, comprising a complex system of ultra-low dispersion and aspherical lenses designed to produce better colour balance and more HD clarity. We have high hopes, too, that this lens array will suppress the 'chicken wire', visible LCD panel structure problem that plagues so many LCD offerings.

Other handy tricks include 10-bit digital image processing to enhance the colour range (to 1.07 billion colours, allegedly),and a dual digital iris arrangement that can automatically adjust the amount of light the iris lets through to best suit the brightness or darkness levels of the scene being shown. In fact, thanks to this adjustable iris, Hitachi claims an enormous contrast ratio of 7,000:1 - the highest we've ever seen on a domestic projector!

Unsurprisingly, it's not long before we start feeling this contrast figure is rather optimistic. But it also doesn't take long to figure out that the TX200's pictures are nonetheless absolutely superb.

Black levels, for instance, are consistently the deepest we've seen on an LCD projector - and actually get close to those of some of the best DLP models available. Dark picture areas don't look forced or hollow, thanks to some exceptionally subtle colour delineations and background texturing.

Talking of colours and texturing, with regard to the former the TX200's combination of rich, vibrant saturations and movie-optimised colour tone is excellent. And with regard to the latter, it delivers levels of fine detail to make many rivals costing twice as much blush.

What's more, it produces these details without hardly a trace of the LCD chicken wire effect. Couple this with LCD technology's freedom from DLP issues like the rainbow effect and fizzing noise over motion, and you've got one of the cleanest projection images seen at this price.

Aside from a slight flickering if you use the Auto2 iris setting, we really can't fault the pictures at all. Add to this the projector's imperious looks, great connectivity, cracking price and the fact that it runs as quietly as any projector we've ever heard, and you really have got an irresistible projection proposition on your hands.

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